Diamonds & Dancefloors

Diamonds & Dancefloors

At the beginning of her career, Albanian American pop superstar Ava Max was best known for sporting an asymmetrical haircut and her totally ubiquitous club-pop banger, 2018’s “Sweet but Psycho,” with its addictive reclamation of calling a woman crazy. Now, on her sophomore LP, she’s kept all the high-energy Eurodance rhythms in place—but this time, the songs are personal. “I went through a really bad breakup while I was writing, and I had to change course,” Max tells Apple Music. “I couldn’t just make positive, upbeat dance songs. I was hurt. Being in the studio and collaborating, it was hard—but also therapeutic.” Each track details a different stage in her healing process: The 2000s dance-pop-meets-Lady Gaga opener “Million Dollar Baby” is the moment she overcame the breakup; “Ghost” is the stage before—a protagonist haunted by the specter of their ex. Disco rhythms, too, shake the heartbreak loose, like on “Turn Off the Lights” and the ’80s synth production of “One of Us.” “I can't even count how many times I've cried and danced on the dance floor this past year,” she laughs. “I want my fans to feel empowered after listening to this.” Below, Ava Max walks Apple Music through Diamonds & Dancefloors, track by track. “Million Dollar Baby” “It interpolates LeAnn Rimes [‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’] only [on] ‘in the dark,’ it's only those three lyrics, that little melody. I called up LeAnn. And you know what? I love her. This song brought me to LeAnn Rimes. So I'm happy. I love her. I loved Coyote Ugly growing up.“ “Sleepwalker” “‘Sleepwalker’ is one of my favorite songs on the album, especially because of the big guitar-sounding solo in it. It's so much fun, and I think Cirkut murdered that. He's such a talented producer; he's the executive producer and backbone of the whole album.” “Maybe You’re the Problem” “‘Maybe You're the Problem’ was written on a day that I got in a really bad argument with my ex-boyfriend. I went into the studio and started yelling, ‘Maybe you're the problem,’ and that's how the song was born. I couldn't cancel the session. I was so upset that I had to go in. The lyrics and melodies came out of my mouth at the same time. It was written so quickly, within an hour.” “Ghost” “I feel a lot of people can relate to this—after a breakup, everywhere you go, you try and forget about this person. They could be so bad, but you still can't stop thinking about their face and their smell and the way they talk. You're trying to date new people, but their ghost keeps appearing everywhere, and you see them everywhere.” “Hold Up (Wait a Minute)” “I love the lyric ‘XO, baby, bye, bye, bye.’ Basically, I'm not going to stand around for this shit, and don't wind me up with all the lines. I never wish ill towards anyone; I hope my ex has a good life. But at the end of the day, we just didn't work out.” “Weapons” “[Co-writers] Ryan Tedder and Melanie [Fontana] and I were going back and forth through text messages. I wasn't actually in the studio with them; I was in the studio with Cirkut and Madison Love. They were sending me ideas, I sent them ideas, and we finished it in the studio. They were like, 'It's a hit!'” “Diamonds & Dancefloors” “I started that title track in the pandemic. It was one of the first songs I wrote for this. The song is really talking about wanting to be on the dance floor, not in my living room, watching another TV show during the pandemic. I wished the world would open. I wanted to be covered in glitter and diamonds on the dance floor.” “In the Dark” “I have a 19-year-old niece. She was talking to me in the studio, and she was like, ‘You should write a song about how sometimes guys don't want to hike with girls in the morning, how guys just want to bang and leave, and they just want to see you in the dark.’ That has definitely happened to me. I have definitely been banged and never talked to again. Why do guys only love in the dark sometimes? Love me during the day.” “Turn Off the Lights” “According to my niece, ‘Turn Off the Lights’ should've come before 'In the Dark,' but I really think I just wanted to end it more disco towards the end. I was thinking sonically. I wanted a dance record with no meaning behind it. I am so sick of writing breakup records with this album. I just wanted to close my eyes and dance.” “One of Us” “There’s the lyrics: ‘One of us would die for love/One of us would give it up.’ [My ex] just didn't want to do the work. And he was very toxic. That's so upsetting. You want to die for someone, and the other person doesn't want to die for you; it’s like, what am I doing? You're not meeting me halfway. I was crying in the studio. I went for a walk between writing the lyrics and melodies and recording, because I needed some fresh air. It’s the most intense song I've ever written, recorded, and probably will perform.“ “Get Outta My Heart” “This song is really just about trying to get this guy out of my head, out of my car, and out of my heart. This is part of the healing process.” “Cold As Ice” “I was singing really low on that harmony. I sound like a man sometimes.” “Last Night on Earth” “‘Last Night on Earth’ was inspired by my love of end-of-the-world movies like San Andreas and Geostorm. I love them so much. I watched one, and then I went into the studio the next day and I said, ‘I just want to talk about the last night on Earth.’ We started talking about aliens and then we ended up writing this record about what we want to do at the end of the world: I want to be dancing or making love when the meteor strikes.” “Dancing’s Done” “This song almost didn't even make the album because I put it in last. This song is, I would say, my most sensual, sexy song. I don't usually sing in falsetto. It's a different side of me that people haven't heard. This song is the beginning of the next phase for me. I feel like I found a sound that I absolutely love.”

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